Reversing can be a rather scary endeavor for most beginner drivers. Especially if you’re in a populated parking lot, where you have to be extra careful not to hit anything or anyone. However, the good news is that with a bit of practice, you can improve your reversing skills to the point where it becomes second nature. Here are the steps to properly reversing your car:

Make Preparations

All good drivers know that you can’t just start reversing without first checking off a few things. Firstly, making sure that you’ve adjusted your seat properly, allowing you to turn and look behind you while still maintaining a comfortable reaching distance to your steering wheel and the brake pedal. Make sure your seat’s height allows you to see perfectly through the rear-view mirror. A well-adjusted seat helps you to steer better, maximizes comfort and improves your visibility.

Secondly, adjust your side mirrors and the rear view mirror properly so that you don’t have any blind spots. When adjusting the side mirrors, make sure that you see just a bit of the car’s body and more of the road. Furthermore, ensure that you set them low enough so that you have the curb in your sights. Lastly, make sure you’re wearing your seatbelt before you attempt to reverse.

Shift the Gear into Reverse

In addition to allowing your car to move backward, putting the gear into reverse will turn on your reversing lights on the back of your car, letting pedestrians or other drivers know that you’re planning to back up. This will ensure that your reversing attempt is not interrupted by anyone.

Scan the Area

If you’re in an area where people and other vehicles are moving around a lot, you will definitely want to survey your surroundings before you attempt to reverse. You should do this preferably in an arc, where you start off by looking over one shoulder and then check the mirror on that side. Afterward, proceed to the rearview mirror, followed by the other side view mirror and finally the remaining shoulder. If you have a reversing camera kit installed, you can more effectively scan the area behind the car. Also, you can look out for pedestrians that may suddenly get in the way.

Reverse

Once you’ve checked off all of the preceding steps, it’s time to attempt reversing. Start by letting go of the brake carefully and allowing the car to move backward at a consistent, slow speed. Do not step on the gas if you’re reversing in a populated, active area. Keep your foot hovering over the brake in case you suddenly need to stop the car.

It’s important to keep in mind that steering is different when you’re reversing than when you’re driving forward. If you steer to the right, the rear wheels of the car will turn left. If you’re attempting to reverse around a corner, move the steering wheel in the proper direction gradually instead of all at once. This will ensure that you retain more control and that the car moves as smoothly as possible.

Once You’re Done

After you’ve successfully reversed into the desired spot, the first thing to do is stop the car and immediately shift out of reverse. This is extremely important. If you forget to shift gears and step on the gas pedal, the car may backup fast and hit something or potentially, someone.

With enough practice, you’ll soon find yourself adhering to each and every step by instinct. If you’re still a beginner it’s always best to have an experienced driver aid you in the process, whenever possible.

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